Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov lose in the quarterfinals.(Getty Images)
Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov lose in the quarterfinals.(Getty Images)

In quarantine, Rohan Bopanna forced to hunt for new doubles partner

  • The doubles world No. 38 faces uncertainty after his original partner, Portugal’s Joao Sousa, pulled out on Saturday night due to the strict quarantine protocols in Australia.
By Rutvick Mehta
PUBLISHED ON JAN 25, 2021 08:21 AM IST

Stuck in full quarantine for 14 days, Rohan Bopanna is also without a doubles partner now for the Australian Open. The doubles world No. 38 faces uncertainty after his original partner, Portugal’s Joao Sousa, pulled out on Saturday night due to the strict quarantine protocols in Australia.

Sousa’s departure was delayed after testing positive for Covid-19 before taking his flight to Melbourne. Though he has tested negative, it is too late due to Australia's strict quarantine rules.

What makes the situation more complicated for Bopanna—he is one of the 72 players forced to isolate in their rooms for two weeks—is that the fortnight’s quarantine requirements mean no new outstation player can fly in and be cleared for the season’s first Grand Slam starting on February 8. India’s top doubles pro will thus have to find a new partner from among those already quarantining in Australia. He is likely to have a shot only if someone else’s partner pulls out or tests Covid-19 positive before the draw.

“I am still searching for a partner… I will need to find one before February 4 (when the draw will be announced),” Bopanna said from Melbourne.

Even if the 40-year-old finds a new partner and their combined ranking helps make the cut for the Slam, it is likely that they will be first put in the alternate list. Bopanna will be in hard quarantine till January 30 as he was on one of the three chartered flights carrying players, support staff and officials that had positive cases.

Sousa, who tested positive around 10 days ago, had still hoped to make it. The 14-day quarantine rule though means the 31-year-old will miss the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2013 Wimbledon. “Even though I already tested negative and have no symptoms, due to the strict rules of the Australian government, I won't be able to travel,” he wrote on Instagram.

It is to tackle such unforeseen withdrawals that the Australian Open organisers flew in six alternate players each from the men’s and women’s singles qualifiers held in Doha and Dubai earlier this month. India’s Ankita Raina, who lost her final qualifying round, is one among them.

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